A Raven’s call breaks the Algonquin silence, and signals the approach of an entity unheard from in years past. Rounding a granite shrouded corner, on ribbons of steel, number 2234 chugs, spews smoke high into the pine fresh breezes, and screeches to a halt at its destination. The Ottawa and Parry Sound Railway had stretched its reach into this nature reserve in 1897 in order to make it more attractive to people unknown to its riches, and soon the Grand Trunk Railway purchased the route with promises of a tourist lodge in the heart of the highlands of Ontario. In 1908, the simple two-story Highland Inn immerged and was immediately a welcome escape for city dwellers. Expansion in 1913 created a west wing, a three storey tower, and an addition to the east side, but only the original was winterized. Sounds of skate blades and frosty voices echoed across Cache Lake as a warm hearth always welcomed them back with the promise of mulled wine and a warm meal. Guests arrived and departed the little station, to the sound of hissing steam and excited chatter, just steps from the inn. The inn now belonging to Canadian National Hotels closed in 1932, but re-opened five years later through the vision of Ed and Norma Paget. A flash flood weakened the steel trestle east of the inn in 1933, and the repairs were deemed too costly, and rail no longer could reach this gem in the pines. A turntable was installed east of the inn to transport guests that far, but the sound of the steam train approaching through misty pines was never heard again on the shores of Cache Lake. Men of the Great Depression, toiling in insect laden forests, followed the old Nominigan wagon road, and constructed Highway 60 through the park with its completion in 1948. A new park policy called for the park to return to its natural state, and the inn was purchased by the government from Ruth Paget in 1956. The following year, Highland Inn was dismantled and burned. All that remains of this stately inn and the steam trains that broke the silence is a grove of pines, a small section of rail, and a concrete stairway that footsteps once ascended in excitement. As you travel through the woodlands and granite outcroppings of Algonquin on your way to celebrate your own achievements and love of nature, give thanks to the men and women who worked hard so others could enjoy all that this landscape has to offer. Do this, and you honour the legacy of Cache Lake 2234.